Top-ranked Baylor made it harder than it should have been against an upset-minded Oklahoma State team Saturday night, missing the front end of three one-and-ones and 13 of its first 25 from the free throw line.
But, when the Bears (21-1, 10-0) absolutely had to have it, they knocked down eight in a row over the last 14 seconds to pull out a 78-70 win and extend their school-record streak to 20-consecutive.
MaCio Teague, who scored a season-high 24 points, hit a pair of clutch free throws with 14.1 seconds left when it was a two-point game and then drained all four when OSU coach Mike Boynton picked up consecutive technical fouls and was ejected just six seconds later.
“I heard (Baylor coach Scott Drew) say right before I went to the line to knock these down, that’s what you do,” Teague said. “It was dead silent, and I heard him. That type of stuff gives you a lot of confidence.”
Freddie Gillespie, who recorded his ninth double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds, capped off the late run with two more free throws.
Mark Vital, who Boynton called “the best defensive player in the country,” scored a season-high 13 points to go with six rebounds, two blocks and a steal. All five Baylor starters scored in double figures, with Jared Butler and Davonte Mitchell adding 15 and 10 points, respectively.
“I think that’s why we’ve been able to be ranked No. 1 is because of our depth and because we have different guys step up,” said Drew, whose team matched the best-ever start in conference play (the 1948 team started 10-0 in the Southwest Conference) and set the program mark for the best record through 22 games.
“You’re going to have some nights when there’s more fouls. There’s going to be some nights where there’s less fouls, and you’ve got to have depth. If you don’t have depth, it’s really tough to win on nights when there are more fouls called.”
This was a physical battle from the opening tip, with a total of 49 personal fouls called. Boynton picked up the two technicals after Jonathan Laurent became his fourth player to foul out.
“Just a lot of frustration,” said Boynton, whose team fell to 11-12 overall and 1-9 in the Big 12. “I’ve got four guys foul out of the game, that’s pretty hard to understand. The game was obviously pretty physical both ways. That’s about all I’ll say about that.”
Twice, it looked like Baylor was on the verge of breaking the game open, taking double-digit leads. But both times, the Cowboys answered.
With Teague knocking down 3-pointers outside and Gillespie controlling things on the inside, the Bears hit nine of 10 at one point and got out to a 24-10 lead when Devonte Bandoo finished off a fast break with a layup.
OSU went on an 11-1 run and pulled back within 27-24 on a pair free throws by Lindy Waters, who scored a team-high 16 points after missing the previous game with a fracture near his sinus area.
“Their record isn’t indicative of the team they are. I stand by that,” said Gillespie, referring to the two single-digit victories over the Cowboys this year. “They’ve got a senior team with Lindy Waters and Cameron McGriff, Thomas Dziagwa, Yori Anei. All those guys play hard and definitely have chemistry, and that makes them a tough opponent for us.”
Baylor had a 35-26 lead at the break and opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers by Butler and Teague to take its biggest lead of the night, 41-26, with 18:50 left in the game.
“When people said I was going through a supposed slump, (my teammates) just kept me uplifted and I stayed in the gym,” said Teague, who was 4-of-7 from outside the arc and 8-of-9 from the line. “I felt like every shot was going in. Somebody told me I was 12-of-45 over a stretch, and I felt like honestly it was 21-of-45. So, I don’t know, it felt good coming off my hand.”
OSU rallied again, scoring nine unanswered points and closing the gap to 41-35 on a driving layup by Waters. The one and only tie in the game came at the 8:52 mark when Waters fed McGriff for a dunk that knotted the game at 51-51.
Butler knocked down consecutive treys to push the lead back to nine, but the Cowboys whittled it down to a two-point deficit before Baylor’s eight-straight free throws that iced the game.
Boynton said this was “an opportunity to grow, to learn that you can go on the road and compete with the best team in the country. And then if you prepare that way and play with the same type of intensity, we can have more success as we move forward.”
Sophomore guard Isaac Likekele recorded his second-straight double-double for the Cowboys with 11 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. McGriff had 11 points and eight rebounds, helping OSU win the battle of the boards, 38-30, while Dziagwa and Kalib Boone had 10 points apiece.